By Evelyn Usman
Emotion ran high last Wednesday in Adeniji-Adele area of Lagos when a 47-year-old man,Â Fatai Kuti, a father of three, failed to control the torrent of tears flowing freely from his eyes following an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide.
Fatai, had boarded a vehicle right from his Ikorodu abode to Adeniji-Adele with the intention of ending what he termed, â€˜a life filled with woesâ€™ when a good Samaritan quickly intervened and saved his life.Â He reportedly attempted to jump from the Third Mainland Bridge into the lagoon, over what he described as his inability to cater for his family, particularly his eight-month -old son whom he said had been suffering from a strange ailment.
In this interview with Crime Guard,Â Fataiâ€™s decision to end it all was discovered not to have been due only to his sonâ€™s ailment, but also his inability to pay his house rent, a development that might result to his being ejected by the end of this month.
Sobbing like a beaten child, this man narrated what he described as his tale of woes: â€œAs I speak, my son needs medical attention. It all started when he was three months old and was taken to the hospital for immunisation. I do not know what kind of injection he was given and since then, I have spent all I have on him but he would not get well . I do not even know what the doctor diagnosed but they said there is need for him to go for scan and thereafter he would go for surgery.
His mouth keeps swelling up on a daily basis and I do not even have money to pay for the medical bills. Do you know what it feels like watching your child suffer from an ailment that would ordinarily be treated but because of your financial incapability, the child remains in such pitiable state longer than necessary? That is the state I find myself.Â I was given a bill of N22,000 for the scan and another N30,000 for the surgery but I cannot afford it and my eight month old son is crying from the excruciating pains.
As if that was not enough, my landlady issued me a six -month notice to quit because of my inability to pay the house rent. The six months ultimatum is expiring by the end of this month and as I speak, there is no hope of getting money anywhere to pay.â€
Deserted by friends and relations
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, who was moved by Fataiâ€™s tale, expressed his readiness to, at least, assist him with some money.
But to ascertain the manâ€™s mental stability and authenticity of his claim, Mba demanded that Fatai give him the number of any of his relatives to confirm this. Immediately Fatai, who claimed to have sold his only phone at the rate of N15,000 in order to get some medication for his ailing son, quoted the telephone number of a close relation.
When contacted, the relation (names withheld) confirmed that he grew up together with Fatai.Â He informed that Fatai has never had any history of mental imbalance since he knew him.
Looking frustrated at the end of the call, Fatai lamented, â€œ Since I have been going through these challenges,Â nobody has come to my aid, not even the person you just called. We are related and he has everything going on well for him.
But anytime I go to his house , he would give directives to his employers to tell me he is not around. What can be more frustrating than having well to do relatives but none cares a hoot about you?
Dismissed because I am not a graduate
Directing his question to no one in particular, he kept mute for a while and gave a blank stare at everyone present. When he continued, he revealed that he once had a job in Port Harcourt but was dismissed on the basis that he was not a graduate. â€œ It is not as if I have been going to family members for help before now.
After all, when I was working in Port Harcourt as a Tank Farm Maintenance officer where I was earning N45,000 per month , excluding other allowances, I was doing well and my family never lacked. But when the company brought new equipment that were beyond me, I was asked to come to their Lagos office but never knew it was a subtle way of easing me out of job.
It was when I came to Lagos that I was made to understand that I was not a graduate. I only finished my primary school education. After I was eased out of job, I went back to welding job where I was getting at least, something to feed the family. But what I realised was not enough to fend for the family.â€
Decision to end it all
Asked how he found his way to the 3rd Mainland Bridge penultimate Wednesday, he said, â€œ I left my house at Ikorodu some minutes after 6am without telling anyone where I was going. In fact, I sneaked out of the house and boarded a bus from Ikorodu to Adeniji Adele, from where I started walking up to the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
Before leaving the house that morning, I just thought I could not bear the sight of seeing my family suffer over nothing, particularly my son. I just concluded there was no point living when nothing is going well with one.
As I was walking down to locate the deep part on the bridge from where I intended to jump into the river, tears started flowing down my cheeks, as I ruminated over what was happening. At a point, I thought aloud by asking if that was how
I was going to end my life? As I was walking, two men tapped me and asked what the matter was. I did not answer them but kept walking. After much ado, I finally opened and burst into fresh tears and informed them that I was going to commit suicide by jumping into the river.
My intention was to jump into the deep part so that no one would find my body, let alone rescue me. I thought that way, I would be through with the troubles of life. What I need is just N150,000 to, at least, carry out the surgery on my son and also pay my house rent. The most painful aspect of it all is watching my little boy suffer without having the means to help himâ€, he stated in tears.
Describing Fataiâ€™s case as pathetic, Mba said he had to be taken into protective custody in order to provide an enabling environment to assist him. Stating that the act of committing suicide was criminal under the Criminal Act of section 327, Mba said if prosecuted, the suspect could be given at least a one- year jail term.
He, however, said since the Police has the power to treat a case according to its merit,Â Â the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, might not be exercising the power of prosecution on Fatai.Â Mba rather called on well- meaning Nigerians and non-governmental organisations to assist Fatai whose son was brought Thursday afternoon to Mbaâ€™s office where his condition of health corroborated with his fatherâ€™s claim.
Said he, â€œ Now that we have investigated and confirmed that the suspect has an invalid son and the man distressed , we are appealing to Lagosians to come to the familyâ€™s aid.â€
He commended the effort of the unidentified good Samaritans, pointing out that but for their prompt effort, Fatai would have ended it all by jumping into the river.